Arizona Martial Arts
When I first wrote this article it was based on several questions I had received over many years of teaching martial arts by a wide variety of people. So, you can look at this as sort of an FAQ. Now keep in mind this was written about Bushin Ryu which is a Japanese Martial System that we teach here at our Headquarters Dojo located in Arizona. This means that while some questions may be relevant to you or schools in your area you may wish to speak to the instructor of any school you’re looking at and ask these questions. This will help you define the many different types of martial arts and martial arts schools out there.
Learning a martial art is a wonderful experience. And, like any new thing, deciding to take the first step (and not just thinking about doing it) is the hardest. In martial arts, especially, I have found that many people like a certain art, but instead of actually learning it, they are content just watching and reading about it. Why is this so? I believe it is such a wasted opportunity when a person finds something they are really interested in, and then choose to be contented with watching and appreciating instead of actually trying it out.
I will list some very common misconceptions of the martial arts per our system. It is with great hope that dispelling these myths will help you choose to consider joining a martial art class and actually step on the mat and try it out.
1) “I have to be in good shape to do martial arts.” You don’t have to be an athlete to start training in a martial art. It is the job of the sensei, or instructor, to factor in your physical condition and fitness level in teaching you. A competent instructor customizes his approach to each of his students, thereby optimizing learning in his dojo. A word of caution: People with prior medical conditions should consult with their doctor first before joining. Prudence is always a good practice and your sensei is not a doctor.
2) “Will I lose weight doing martial arts?” Losing weight is the responsibility of the individual and not the art! In whatever martial art, even if you train for the entire day, this won’t matter at all if you don’t control your diet. Always remember that weight management is a balance of calorie input vs calorie output. Like other martial arts, Bushin Ryu is a way to exercise (calorie output); but it won’t really help unless you learn to control what you eat (calorie input). Please see the “ask the trainer” section of this website as this is a great resource on such material.
3) “It will take many, many years before I can defend myself.” This is difficult to estimate. In the case of martial proficiency, however, the length of time to achieve this varies from student-to-student. There is a process in the road to learning. There are no shortcuts in getting good at anything. You really have to dedicate time and effort, and most especially, to persevere and never give up.
4) “I’ll have to break boards and bricks.” No. the only things we “break” in Bushin Ryu is balance and aggressive intent.
5) “I will have to bow to everybody.” Yes. We bow to the shomen (front of the dojo) at the beginning and end of each session. We also bow at the Sensei after he presents a technique for us to practice. We also bow to each other at the beginning and at the end of partnered training. Bowing is a sign of respect, not worship. Bowing to each other symbolizes goodwill, gratitude and humility. In Bushin Ryu, we value our training partners, they are essential in learning the art. And bowing is our way of showing how much they mean to us.
6) “I am too old (or too young!) to start doing Bushin Ryu.” Most competent instructors individualize the training regimen of their students. We are reminded to “train at our own pace”. In Bushin Ryu, one should find their own way to achieve their goals. For as long as you can follow instructions, I see no reason why you cannot enjoy experiencing this wonderful system.
7) “Martial Arts will make my children violent.” There are many contemporary studies that question this very stereotype. Just type benefits of martial arts training on Google! For the most part, martial arts actually teach self-respect and respect for others. Now, obviously, if you choose a school which focuses on competition and sport then the student is taught to be aggressive. Conversely, if you choose a school based on tradition and self-defense the student is taught to be balanced in such matters. In Bushin Ryu, cooperation and the study of harmony are regarded as the most basic learning tools of the system. (see Masakatsu Agatsu).
8) “Martial Arts are not for women and girls.” Bushin Ryu, in particular, is not about brute strength. Bushin Ryu is actually enjoyed by more women than you think! This is one of the best qualities of Bushin Ryu; by not relying on strength, but rather on the technique and the physical applications of martial principles, anyone can learn it regardless of gender, build, or age.
9) “There is a relatively high risk of injury.” Injuring each other is the last thing we would want in our dojo. Before even letting you join, a dojo usually asks you to first observe or participate in a trial class to see what you are getting yourself into. The basics of safety (see ukemi) are generally the first thing taught to beginners in order to prevent injury. Again, the intention of Bushin Ryu is not to harm each other but to live in harmony with each other. This sentiment also applies to how we train in the dojo.
10) “Receiving my black belt means I am an expert.” Being a black belt is only the beginning in your martial arts journey. It signifies that you have a good grasp of the basics. Think of it as an intermediate level. In Bushin Ryu, we generally do not think of ourselves as an expert (this is why we do not use terms like “Master” or “Grandmaster”). We are all students in martial arts.
It is my hope that people start to actively seek their interests and goals. If you find that trying Bushin Ryu is something you are interested in, I suggest that instead of just thinking about doing Bushin Ryu (or any martial art), why not visit the Dojo, ask, observe, and try it out for yourself! To live a life without regrets, we must not give up before we have even started.
For more information please visit us at: www.MartialArtsMesa.com